Expectation v. Reality

Legs too short to tap my toes on the carpet, my feet rhythmically swayed mid-air to the beat of the music. Not only did I need a melody of escape, but a place to take captive my thoughts.

As I sat on the big comfy couch at Chattahoochee Coffee Company, my thoughts became distracted as soon as these two tall twenty-somethings sat next to me, which by the way, looked like they had just stepped out of an REI catalog.giphy

Suddenly I became more aware of my lack of care in getting ready for the day. But at the same time, I didn’t mind the “no make-up, messy hair, glasses, Patagonia pull-over, leggings, sneakers, wool socks, coffee breath” look.

Focus Ashley.

So for the past two years, I’ve realized my over-thinking and over-analyzing thoughts can be harmful to my health. Expectations are either met, exceeded or deflated. And it’s especially in those situations of over-thinking when my expectations don’t align with reality.

Remember the scene in 500 Days of Summer when Tom gets invited to Summer’s party? Split down the center of the screen, the left side depicts Tom’s expectations of what will happen, while the right side simultaneously shows the reality of what is actually happening.

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So how can I avoid getting lost in my thoughts of over-thinking, reading into things that aren’t actually there, and over-analyzing every little detail of my life?

Before answering the typical Christian response, let’s rewind to the fall of 2013 when I sought counseling just months after graduating from the University of Alabama. (Roll Tide!)

This bubbly brunette from Celebration, FL, whose voice could easily be mistaken for Snow White, fell into a pit of depression and anxiety.

In December 2013, I didn’t have the desire to exercise, socialize, leave the house, eat or even get out of bed. Resting my head on my pillow, all I could focus on was my breathing and the crippling chest pains which ensued after every exhale.

And that’s when I cried out to God.

“How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?” (Psalm 13:2)

For me, anxiety has been an ongoing battle spiritually, mentally and physically. Some days the birds are chirping and the sky is an extra hue of blue, but then I encounter those unexpected days. The days in which everything suddenly seems suffocating.

My counselor described anxiety as “bottled up emotions.” In other words, if I trap my thoughts internally, then worry and fear trump externally.

And to answer my original question, I’ve realized that in order to take my thoughts captive, I need to commit more energy to seeking God through worship (praying, journaling, reading scripture, singing, dancing, drawing.) I need to remember the importance of thinking out loud (I bet you $5 you just read that sentence in Ed Sheeran’s voice).

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

So how does this all relate with being “Single Since ’91?”

Confession time.

I struggled for years in being “content in my singleness.” And now that I finally feel somewhat content, the idea of being in a relationship scares me. It’s a fear of the unknown. Being single is what I’ve only ever known. It’s familiar territory. It’s comfortable.

But then came along a friend.

Dang it, God. Why did you have to put this new friend in my path? I was finally content in being single. I was fine without having  a crush on someone. Well, let’s be honest, I will always have a crush on someone, and his name is Justin Timberlake.giphy

And just like clockwork, familiar patterns of over-thinking started to sink in…

Was that a dumb thing to text him? Do I have coffee breath? Is there food stuck in my teeth? How does my hair look? Am I being myself around him? Am I being too obvious? Should I ask him to hang out? Does he like me back? Should I tell him how I feel?

As embarrassing as it is to admit what goes on in my head, I’m just being real here and practicing thinking out loud and not bottling up my emotions.

So if you’re reading this, friend… SURPRISE! I like you.

So rather than telling you how I feel in person, I thought I’d nervously confess to the world-wide web instead.

But I have another confession to tell you. Starting today, I am committing to trusting in God’s will and wisdom, instead of over-thinking and over-analyzing my own advice. I am taking steps of faith and leaving the results up to Him.

I don’t want to waste my energy manipulating situations to work out in my favor. I don’t want to be expectant of something that could very well never happen at all. I desire to draw near and trust in God’s timing. I don’t want to fear rejection. I’m no longer a slave to fear; I am a child of God.

If it’s meant to happen, it will happen. If not, God is still good.